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DEFENSIVE DRIVING

What happens when a self-driving car gets pulled over by a cop? Nothing

Google+/Google Self-Driving Car Project
"Do you know how fast you were going?"
  • Mike Murphy
By Mike Murphy

Technology editor

Published Last updated on This article is more than 2 years old.

Many people—and car companies—seem to think that self-driving cars are the future of safe transport. If connected supercomputers can see all and react faster than humans in any situation, then in the future, we’ll be able to sit back and relax on our morning commutes. But we’re not quite there yet: Yesterday (Nov. 12), it was revealed that one of Google’s self-driving cars was pulled over in the company’s hometown of Mountain View, California. Its crime: driving too slowly.

Google has previously said that it limits its cars to a top speed of about 25 mph. Earlier this week, one of its cars was driving on the El Camino Real, a road with a speed limit of 35 mph. A police officer noticed that traffic was backing up on the road, caught up to the vehicle causing the jam, and realized it was one of Google’s koala-shaped cars, driving at a leisurely 24 mph. According to a blog post from the Mountain View Police Department, the officer wasn’t looking to give anyone (or anything) a ticket, but made contact with the car’s operators to learn more about how the car determines its speeds on certain roads—and to point out the dangers of impeding the regular flow of traffic.

Google shared a photo of the traffic stop, with a caption that begins: “Driving too slowly? Bet humans don’t get pulled over for that too often.”

Google’s self-driving cars, which have now logged more than 1.2 million miles, have in the past been criticized of being too cautious and deferential, even accused of driving like someone’s grandmother. Google says in on its blog that it’s proud that its cars have never been ticketed, which sounds exactly like what someone’s grandmother—or at least one who stays in the right-hand lane the entire time she’s on the highway, traveling 10 miles under the speed limit—might say.

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